The Jolly postman's party is based on the books by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. The multimedia options include creating a picture of yourself and entering the party room. Here the user has six options ranging from playing a balloon shooting game to creating a birthday card to send. Other choices include a memory building game where the youngster must decide what objects have been moved when the lights are off, the pat-a-cake option which provides practice in simple addition and following directions, and a make-and-do program where the user creates party invitations and other creative pictures. A web site includes information related to the Jolly Postman books. The program options include some primary level skills for youngsters in K-2; however, educators will find that making this edutainment program a worthwhile instructional experience will take some additional work and crafting of assignments.
Edmark provides another superb example of instructional software in Thinkin' things Sky Island mysteries. In order to save the Sky Island Festival, users need to solve all 14 mysteries while practicing logic, communication and information skills. Students begin at Clue Central for introductory information. They then move to one of three other activities to gather clues to solve the mystery. Stadium Isle provides practice in predicting sequences and analysis as Fripples are organized into a number of stadium shows. Airshow Isle has the youngsters set up a flight log to perform a scripted air show while prioritizing as well as analyzing and synthesizing information. Rebus Isle builds phonics and interpreting skills as students solve a wide variety of rebus puzzles. An option also exists to have students create their own rebus puzzles to use for challenging fellow students. Once several clues are gathered from the activities, the student returns to Clue Central to solve the mystery. Each activity has an explore option, a Q & A section and a difficulty level. Student progress is saved so youngsters can complete all 14 mysteries in a series of sessions. Students are intrigued with this program and gain valuable information skills while solving a variety of mysteries.
Just in case you missed Microsoft bookshelf '98, here is another look at this useful reference tool. Bookshelf users are familiar with the eight references included in past CDs: The American heritage dictionary, Encarta world atlas, Roget's thesaurus, World almanac, Columbia dictionary of quotes, People's chronology, and the National five-digit ZIP code and post office directory. This version also includes the Encarta 98 desk encyclopedia and the Bookshelf computer and Internet dictionary 98. Regular users will also find the QuickShelf integration has been improved and is now available by clicking on the Bookshelf icon on the tool bar. The Internet options have also been greatly improved. A premier web search done via Infoseek provides access to over 400,000 pre-screened web links. In addition, the Computer and Internet dictionary contains 7,000 definitions to make the world of technology even more understandable. Educators will appreciate the options for copying selected materials directly into Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. Information copied into Word is automatically footnoted. A parental control feature allows for the automatic filtering of words labeled by the American Heritage Dictionary's Usage Panel as either vulgar, obscene or offensive. Any articles containing such words are omitted from the article list and do not appear to the user. These words are filtered automatically and no options are provided for choosing what words to filter. The wide range of features available and the easy integration into other tool software make Microsoft bookshelf a good reference tool for middle and high school students.
Another reference tool you will want to preview is the World book 1998 multimedia encyclopedia-deluxe edition. A set of three homework tools have been added this year. The Report Wizard helps students develop outlines, schedules, note cards and bibliographies. A Timeline Wizard enables searches through a database of historical or personal events. Other wizards help youngsters develop charts for either pie or bar charts and line graphs. All the wizards are easy to use and provide students with good reference tools. The two-volume CD set minimizes the switching of CDs by allowing the user to search for media clips on each CD separately. The 1998 version includes the same 360 degree virtual reality clips found in Microsoft's Bookshelf and Encarta. In addition, users receive 12 months of free updates once they visit the online site. The Internet access has been streamlined and is easier for those not using the Internet connections provided as samples. Online features include article updates, the month in brief, updated information on the entire century and a list of selected web sites. A variety of search options allow students to access information via an index, looking at only media elements, selecting a "What's New" option, choosing a date, or using maps an indices. Overall, students and educators will find the 1998 version of World book more user friendly and a more open environment for young researchers.
A finalist for the SPA category for Best Curriculum Software for Middle Schools, Sunburst's A field trip to the rainforest deluxe takes youngsters to the rainforests in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. The virtual journey begins in the Visitor Center with host, Iguana Jack. Here, users can access the venue of choice from the globe, get to the field guide, work with the data table, hear word pronunciations, learn definitions in the terms book, play the fun facts game and easily access help. These options can also be accessed via pull down menus. The discovery screens provide a virtual look at the rainforests via excellent computer graphics. The user can zoom in on an item, change the view from day to night and look at the various layers of the rainforest. By selecting an animal or plant, the student can then access the term book, data table or field guide to gather further information. The field guide includes sections on the animals, plants, people and resources of the rainforest, as well as sections on the future and actions the students can take to help safeguard the rainforest. The text in this section can be read aloud and a computer graphic of the item is included. A journal feature and a print option allow students to gather information for use in other reports and projects. The data tables have sort and find options which allow students to access even more information. A camera option also allows for taking pictures of various portions of the rainforests. The fun facts activity tests a student's knowledge of the rainforest in multiple choice and true/false sets of questions. The variety of options available for learning about the world's rainforests make this an excellent reference as well as curriculum-based piece of software.
A field trip to the rainforest deluxe. Multimedia PC with 486/66Mhz or higher, 8MB RAM, Super VGA 256 color display or higher, 4x speed CD-ROM drive, Windows 3.1 or higher. Macintosh version on separate CD. $89.95 per platform. Sunburst Communications, 101 Castleton Street, Pleasantville, NY 10570-3498. 800-338-3457. //www.sunburst.com/
The jolly postman's party. Multimedia PC with 486 or higher, 8MB RAM, Super VGA 256 color display or higher, double-speed CD-ROM drive, Windows 3.1 or higher. Macintosh version on same CD. $24.95. DK Multimedia, 95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016. 800-356-6575. //www.dk.com/
Microsoft bookshelf '98. Multimedia PC with 486 or higher, 8MB RAM, Super VGA 256 color display or higher, double-speed CD-ROM drive, Windows 95 or NT 4.0, Internet access and modem needed for web links. $54.95; educational price available on Microsoft Open License Program. Microsoft, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399. 206-882-8080. //bookshelf.msn.com/
Thinkin' things Sky Island mysteries. Multimedia PC Pentium 66 Mhz or higher, 8MB RAM, Super VGA 256 color display or higher, double-speed CD-ROM drive, Windows 3.1 or higher. $29.95 consumer version. Edmark, 6727 185th Avenue NE, Redmond, WA 98052. 800-426-0856. //www.edmark.com/
World book 1998 multimedia encyclopedia--deluxe edition. Multimedia PC with 486DX66 or higher, 16MB RAM, Super VGA 256 color display or higher, double-speed CD-ROM drive, 16 bit sound card, Windows 3.1 or higher, Internet access and modem needed for web links. $69.95. IBM, 3200 Windy Hill Road, WG16A, Atlanta, GA 30339. 800-426-7235. //www.worldbook.com or //www.us.pc.ibm.com/multimedia/…